Our Team

Executive Leadership

Our Team
Artistic Director

Kevin Coval

Kevin Coval is a poet and community builder. As the artistic director of Young Chicago Authors, founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, and professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago—where he teaches hip-hop aesthetics—he’s mentored thousands of young writers, artists and musicians.

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Mickayla Johnson

Executive Assistant

Mickayla Johnson is an aspiring curator, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, and a graduate of Columbia College.

Rebecca Hunter

Executive Director

Rebecca Hunter has more than 15 years of local and international experience in the cultural sector. Before joining Young Chicago Authors as Executive Director in 2011, Ms. Hunter was formerly a Producing Director and Executive Producer of Redmoon Theater. Prior to joining Redmoon Theater in 2005, she was based in London UK and Belfast Northern Ireland where she organized literature festivals, arts festivals, cultural programs, conferences and events. Ms. Hunter also served as General Manager of Active Alloys, an entrepreneurial metal fabrication and design studio based in Chicago.

Artistic

Our Team
Britteney Black Rose Kapri Teaching Artist Fellow

Britteney Black Rose Kapri

Teaching Artist Fellow

Britteney Black Rose Kapri is a teaching artist, writer, performance poet and playwright based out of Chicago. A former ensemble member and teaching artist for the Hip Hop Theater nonprofit Kuumba Lynx. Currently she is an alumna turned Teaching Artist Fellow at Young Chicago Authors. She is a staff member and writer for Black Nerd Problems. Her first chapbook, Winona and Winthrop, was published in June of 2014 through New School Poetics. She has also been published in Poetry Magazine, Vinyl, Day One, Seven Scribes and Kinfolks Quarterly. She is a 2015 Rona Jaffe Writers Award Recipient

Jamila Woods Associate Artistic Director

Jamila Woods

Associate Artistic Director

Jamila Woods is a poet, singer, and teaching artist from Chicago, IL. She the Associate Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors and a founding member of YCA’s Teaching Artist Corps. A Pushcart Prize winner, her poetry has been published by Poetry Magazine, Haymarket Books and Third World Press. Jamila was a 2015 recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship awarded by the Poetry Foundation. She is also a member of the Dark Noise Collective of poets & educators of color. Jamila recently released her debut solo album HEAVN to rave reviews by Pitchfork & the Chicago Tribune.

José Guadalupe Olivarez Marketing Manager

José Guadalupe Olivarez

Marketing Manager

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants, the co-author of the book of poems Home Court, and the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. He is a graduate of Harvard University and the Marketing Manager at Young Chicago Authors. A winner of a 2016 Poets House Emerging Poet Fellowship and a 2015 Bronx Recognizes Its Own award from the Bronx Council on the Arts, his work has been published in The BreakBeat Poets, Vinyl Poetry and Prose, The Chicago Tribune, & Brooklyn Magazine, among other places. He is from Calumet City, IL, and lives in Chicago. Follow him on social media at @_joseolivarez.

Nate Marshall Director of National Programs

Nate Marshall

Director of National Programs

Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. He is the author of Wild Hundreds and an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-HopWild Hundreds has been honored with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s award for Poetry Book of the Year and nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His last rap album, Grown came out in 2015 with his group  Daily Lyrical Product. Nate is a member of The Dark Noise Collective. He completed a B.A. in English and African American Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing at The University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers' Program. Nate has received fellowships from Cave CanemThe Poetry Foundation, and The University of Michigan. Nate has taught at The University of Michigan, Wabash College, and Northwestern University. Nate is a proud YCA alum.

Teaching Artist Corps Members

Our Team
Blu

Blu

Keith “Blu” Warfield is an all-around artist who uses multiple artistic platforms to express himself and the stories of people around him. If he isn't taking photos, dancing, or rapping, he is more than likely sharing spaces with the youth of Chicago in a classroom. He competed his entire high school career as part of TEAM Englewood, winning the inaugural Louder Than a Bomb Indy Poet Award in 2012. He is currently working as a Teaching Artist and in 2015 led projects with Young Chicago Authors Community Partners including Nike, Jordan, True Star, Kuumba Lynx, The Freshman Urban Program at Northwestern University and The Chase Fellowship Initiative. He was selected this summer to lead workshops for University of Chicago Summer Lab Write On Program.

E'mon Lauren

E'mon Lauren

E’mon Lauren. November 9, 1996. Southside Chicago. Redline. Harold's Chicken. Mild sauce. Early graduate. Slam poet. Louder Than a Bomb champion. ‘14. Louder Than a Bomb Indy finalist. ‘14. Brave New Voices. ‘13 & ‘14. Louder Than a Bomb College Slam champion. ‘16. Chicago’s Youth Poet Laureate. ’16. Playwright “Commando”. ‘16. Performed at PITCHFORK Music Festival, Allstate Arena, Goodman Theatre, etc. Vocalist. Emcee. Teaching artist. Published artist. The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. ‘15. Performing artist. Non-binary agender. Womyn. Humyn.

Kush Thompson

Kush Thompson

Kush Thompson is a political-romantic poet, womanist, painter, avid As Told By Ginger watcher, teaching artist, and organizing co-chair of Black Youth Project 100’s Chicago chapter. Voted runner-up best local poet of 2014 by The Chicago Reader and one of The Root's 2015 Young Futurists, Kush is the author of A Church Beneath the Bulldozer (New School Poetics, 2014). In 2014, Kush joined, as a German consul, the Berlin-based Wort.Word.Lich collective for its first bi-lingual showcase tour. Her work has appeared in Poetry Magazine and The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.

Matt Muse

Matt Muse

Matt Muse is a Hip-Hop artist, producer, and song writer born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. He kickstarted his musical career as a student at Northern Illinois University, performing at multiple shows on the schools’ campus and other Illinois colleges. He graduated with a Bachelor’s in Corporate Communication in May 2016. Matt's music has been featured on Sway in the Morning and Vocalo FM Chicago. He has done performances throughout Chicago including AAHH! Fest 2016, TIP Fest, CiMM Fest, and many other venues and shows. Matt was a featured speaker at the NIU TedX event on April 23, 2016 where he did a ‘TED Talk’ that discussed the impact that Hip-Hop has had on his life and how it can change the world artistically and socially.

Tim 'Toaster' Henderson

Tim 'Toaster' Henderson

A performance poet, mural artist and musician, Toaster uses a kaleidoscope of artistic vision to create, express and teach. He has been featured on many stages across North America including Lexus Versus and Flow, National Public Radio, various National Slam competitions and in front of the most cutthroat audiences of all: teenagers. Aside from pursuing his own craft, Toaster works in Chicago schools as a teaching artist for Young Chicago Authors, as well as facilitating his own workshops in elementary schools, high schools, universities and various other educational settings.

Programs and Production

Our Team

Bayana Davis

Programs Coordinator & BNV Future Corps Fellow

Bayana Davis is an Oakland native and graduate of Mills College. She has grown up in the Youth Speaks family, working on SPOKES and serving as the National Program Intern. She is a huge nerd and a writer of science fiction/fantasy. When she is not working, reading, or having Doctor Who or Harry Potter marathons, she runs a blog with her cousin called “Black Girls Nerd Out”, where they explore their identities as black women nerds. She also cohosts a Harry Potter podcast called “#WizardTeam” as a part of “Black Girls Nerd Out”.

Heather Roberts

Programs Manager

Heather Roberts is a poet, performer, and a Teaching Artist. She earned her Bachelors in Performance Art from Cornell College. She worked as an AmeriCorps Vista at the Davenport Civil Rights Commission and as the Assistant Director and Interim Director of the Office of Intercultural Life at Cornell College. She earned her Masters in Organizational Leadership from St. Ambrose University. Heather is certified in Spoken Word Pedagogy from Concordia University.

Jess McLeod

LTAB Program Manager

Jess McLeod is a theatre director and teacher specializing in new plays and musicals about underrepresented Americans. Chicago credits include Las Meninas (The Hypocrites), How We Got On (Haven Theatre), Season on the Line (The House Theatre of Chicago), Venus (Steppenwolf Next Up!), Kevin Coval's L-vis Live! (Victory Gardens), For Your Art: portrait of a young blu artist and Kumovi for The Lyric Opera of Chicago's inaugural Chicago Voices program, and Mill Girls (in development). Jess has taught, lectured, or guest-directed at YCA, Storycatchers Theatre, NSLC, Yale, NYU, and Williams College, and earned her M.F.A. in Directing from Northwestern University.

Kesha Daniels-Rush

Director of Programs

Kesha brings to YCA knowledge and practice established through her program development, implementation, and coordinating work with grassroots community organizations, public and private universities and public libraries, in addition to her work in the areas of marketing and media communications. Her work has been informed by a liberal arts education and graduate study in the scholar-activist tradition through education and training focused on the intersectionality of various historical and contemporary cultural dynamics, as well as, the institutional and social implications upon communities of the inner city.

Mariah Neuroth

Producing Director

Mariah Neuroth began her career in Chicago as the Youth Program Coordinator for RefugeeOne, co-founded and served as Education Director for Hermit Arts, a local arts organization dedicated to exposing youth and their adult allies to the arts as well as promoting and organizing local artists and writers. Mariah was founding board chair for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation. Mariah has a Masters of Education in Youth Development from the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Tammy Job

Director of School and Community Resources

Tammy Job brings her experience in organizing, developing and motivating to Young Chicago Authors after many years of experience with other for-profit and non-profit organizations. Tammy has developed and implemented curriculum for many organizations including public schools and the United Methodist Church. Her experience includes event management for groups such as Susan G. Komen and the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. In addition, Tammy has brought her passion for working with and helping youth find their voice by founding, nurturing and developing a number of youth-centered performance events. She began her work with non-profits with HeadFirst, an organization dedicated to reducing childhood head injuries. Tammy has a B.A. in English from Kansas University.

Development and Communications

Our Team

Alissa Goldwasser

Director of Institutional Giving

Alissa Goldwasser is responsible for individual and institutional fundraising activities at YCA. Before joining YCA, Ms. Goldwasser was a freelance grant writer, working primarily with youth services organizations. She also worked for 10 years as an equity analyst in the investment banking sector. Ms. Goldwasser holds a M.B.A. from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.

Anne Manly

Grant Writer / Gifts Manager

Anne Manly is Gifts Manager for Young Chicago Authors. Anne is a lawyer and previously served as the Supervising Attorney for the Shakman Compliance Administrator of Cook County and represented plaintiffs in employment discrimination matters. Prior to law school, Anne was an wilderness guide and instructor for outdoor adventure education programs, including Outward Bound. She received her law degree from the University of Illinois and a degree in experiential education from Southern Illinois University. Anne comes to YCA with experience as a volunteer and Board Member with numerous Chicago not-for-profits, primarily focusing on women’s issues, voters’ rights and community mental health services.

Sean Michael Kaplan

National Director of Special Operations

Sean's work at YCA is on special events, major gifts donor cultivation, corporate sponsorships, in-kind gift relationships, special media projects, and with the 17 LTAB national network sites that span across the country, all combining to focus on raising awareness locally, for Young Chicago Authors as an organization, and nationally, for the Louder Than A Bomb youth poetry festival.

Operations

Our Team

Lynna Tyler

Finance Manager

Scott Schenke

IT Manager